Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What does a Kindle smell like?

One of the greatest feelings in my world is opening a brand new book for the first time followed closely by the feeling of looking at my rather large collection of unread books and pondering which one I would like to read next. One action takes place before the order but I guess feelings have no order. Opening up the book with the crisp new pages and the unmistakable odor wafting up, every bit as identifiable as that of a new car, just has no equal.

Dust jackets on hardcover books just never made sense. I gather they are to keep the dust and dirt off the hardcover to protect them but if I had my druthers, I would rather the dust jacket look better. It is after all the one you see first and we all know first impressions are everything. I've bought many a book by its cover and later discovered I judged wrong but I still continue doing so because what other choice do I have short of sitting down and reading the book in the store. So I always begin a new book by taking off the dust jacket and placing it in the bedroom nightstand drawer to prevent dirt and dust from destroying it and not worry about the inevitable dirt stains that always seem to find their way to books that I am reading.

Books have been obsolete since shortly after Al Gore invented the Internet. I have tried reading several books over the Internet but have never made it more than a chapter or so into them. It just isn't the same. A computer is ones and zeros and stark white backgrounds that needs lots and lots of batteries, charging, or backlighting just to read them. Books can be read just as easily laying in bed, reclined in that easy chair by a nice warm fire, or during takeoff on a flight when all your electronics must be shut off. There is something comforting about closing a book and checking how much I have read by gauging my bookmarks progress from the front to back cover, something that I can't do with a Kindle. I'm sure it has electronic bookmarks and tells how many pages are read out of how many total but a picture is worth a thousand words. Besides, what would I do with my old leather bookmark with the hand painted words faded into obscurity that I received as a gift so many years ago? I used to go through bookmarks pretty fast and thus resorted to using a Kleenex but I haven't lost my leather one. You tend to pay more attention to treasured items.

Once you finish with your electronic copy of the book you are reading, where does it go? Do you file it away on some electronic bookshelf to gather electronic dust? I like to collect my books, especially the good ones where I judged the cover correctly, and reread them from time to time. I can also write my name on the inside of the cover and loan it out to family and friends so that they may get enjoyment from them as well. Something that I probably couldn't do with an electronic copy due to copyright infringement.

Those books with expired copyrights that are written in text that no computer can decipher, our now being deciphered by you and I and put on the web for all to read. Did you know this? Some kid created a program that he sold to various websites that uses pictures of words a computer program couldn't automatically translate as authentication codes to prevent spammers, much like blogger does. There was a problem verifying that what we typed in as a "translation" was correct if the computer couldn't understand the word to begin with so his program has you translate two words, one known by the computer and one unknown from some book. As a results, hundreds of thousands of books have been automatically translated onto the web by you and I as we type in those silly codes to show those websites we are a spambot. I don't think I can be annoyed by this loss of two or three seconds of my time any longer. It's for humanity.

Will humanity evolve, as predicted, to permanently forego paper books and become a true paperless society? Will a Kindle become as ubiquitous as Kleenex or toilet paper? It took society nearly a hundred years to pay for toilet paper when the Sears and Roebuck catalog that came in the mail was free, true story. I hope not. I so enjoy that smell of a new book and the crisp new pages, something that the sterile plastic of a Kindle could never provide. Besides, how can I judge a book by its cover if it has no cover?

9 comments:

R. Sherman said...

I have absolutely no desire for a Kindle for the reasons you suggest. There's just something . . . warm about cracking open a book. Also, given that I "dog-ear" pages and scribble margin notes for future reference, I can't see a Kindle being much help to me.

Cheers.

TC said...

Good post.

Though I have to tell you... you could solve the problem of dust jackets by reading paperback only, like I do :)

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman - I don't know why I don't dog-ear pages. I spend inordinate amounts of time later trying to find passages.

TC - I read lots of them too. However, certain books I tend to get hardbound because I know I will want to keep them around. Also, I tend to pick up books at yard sales and such and mostly seem to find books that interest me, i.e. non-fiction and non-romance books as hardbounds.

The Real Mother Hen said...

What do you read that you need to "smell" the book? Romance? eheehee :>

Nah I'm just being mean. I know what you mean, sort of. I'm resisting Kindle for the time being simply because I don't read as much now.

Murf said...

I don't know, Ed. I wouldn't be surprised if books go the same way that newspapers are headed which is disturbing. I like sitting on the couch after work and reading that day's newspaper.

Good God, did I just write that?!? I'm getting old.

geri said...

Tom would love to have a Kindle someday, maybe when he retires and has more time to read. He personally doesn't believe that old fashioned books will be obsolete though. Me neither. It's just like they have these lengthy manuals online, I always have the urge to print them out because I am able to better absorb it that way. For me, reading a book on a monitor is good for perhaps an hour or two but longer than that it's easier on the eyes to read them on paper.

PhilippinesPhil said...

No TP for me anymore; I strictly use water. TP should actually be called "smearing paper." grin...

I rarely buy new books. They are heavy. Only a handful and you have quite a load going. I had books going back 25 years and then had to toss most of them during my first divorce; no room. I started "collecting" again and then decided to retire over here; I had to throw them away again, too heavy. Now, I pick up used ones and pass them along after i'm done. My theme now, have nothing that you can't walk away from...

Beau said...

Still have that library from the '80's and '90's... still buy books, albeit far less often. But I'm just not ready for the Kindle thing yet. I can read news on little devices, but books? I'm with you on that one.

Ed Abbey said...

Phil - The next time I clean out my collection or come across unwanted books, I am going to be shipping them to the Philippines. They seem altogether too light of books.

Beau - I haven't bought too many new books lately. Most of the time they are given to me as gifts or I am redeeming points from credit card payouts, etc.